While we’re typically cautioned against staring at bright lights if we want to keep our eyesight healthy, a recent study suggests that staring at a deep red light for a few minutes a day can improve vision in those over 40.
According to the research conducted at University College London (UCL), hitting the eyeball with just the right wavelength of light has been found to “recharge the energy system” and bring significant improvement to people with declining eyesight.
As the UCL researchers explain, cellular function declines with age due to lower densities of mitochondria in the retina’s photoreceptor cells. Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, producing energy and boosting cell function.
Due to the fact that retina’s photoreceptor cells have particularly high energy needs, it is also where a high density of mitochondria can be found. This contributes to the disproportionate rate of age-related decline in the eyes, which begins to accelerate at around 40 years and causes a significant decline in photoreceptor function.
But as the study has found, exposing the power-hungry photoreceptor cells to near-infrared light with a wavelength of 670 nanometers, their performance improved, along with study subjects’ eyesight.
For the study, 12 male and 12 female participants between the ages of 28 and 72 had the sensitivity of their eyes checked. They were then asked to stare into a small LED torch for three minutes a day over two weeks. Follow-up testing revealed that the therapy had no impact on the younger subjects, but brought significant benefits for those 40 and over.
The ability to detect colors improved by as much as 20 percent in some of those subjects, with the most significant gains observed in the blue part of the spectrum that is most susceptible to age-related decline.